The University of Arizona

Summer 2009 Newsletter
Volume 3, Issue 1

Chief Justice Roberts Visits Rehnquist Center

Justice Roberts

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., visited the Rehnquist Center in early February to deliver the Third Rehnquist Center Lecture. He also participated in programs at the law school and in the community. Mike and Shelley Meehan got the Chief's visit off to a great start with a southwestern dinner at their home. The following day, the Chief met with about 150 law students and undergraduates to talk about the workings of the Supreme Court and the role of the Chief Justice. Next, Chief Justice Roberts met with government students at Tucson High School to discuss the role of the courts in our constitutional system, and particularly the role of the Supreme Court of the United States. This visit was part of "First Monday" — the Center's new program in constitutional literacy for high school students.

In his lecture delivered at the Rehnquist Center on February 4, 2009, Chief Justice Roberts gave a warm tribute to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. In talking about the Rehnquist Center, Roberts lauded the first two years of the Center's operations. He noted the importance of the Center's public outreach and education efforts and the Sandra Day O'Connor Judicial Exchange Program:

The Rehnquist Center is off to a great start. The Center is responding directly to the need ... to pass on to the next generation of leaders a solid understanding of the constitutional principles that have secured our freedom. The Center's seminars and conferences are attracting distinguished scholars to explore both timeless legal issues such as judicial independence, federalism and the separation of powers, and timely new topics such as the effect of the new media on the law. It is vital to bring pragmatic intellectual forces to bear on these subjects and the Center provides an ideal forum for doing so.

To view Chief Justice Roberts's remarks, click here.

Rehnquist Center Calendar

September 14, 2009

Regional Conference on Judicial Independence
Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, Washington

October 26, 2009

Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Stephen Breyer visit the Rehnquist Center
Tucson, Arizona

High School "First Monday" Program Kicks Off With Visit by Chief Justice Roberts

As part of a new Rehnquist Center program on constitutional literacy, Chief Justice Roberts met with approximately 100 students studying government at Tucson High School. The Chief spoke with the students about how the Supreme Court works and answered questions regarding the Court and the role of the Chief Justice. The visit capped a special course about the role of the courts taught by Rehnquist Center Director Sally Rider and Tucson attorney and Rehnquist Center Board Member Michael Meehan.

The new program will enlist volunteer attorneys and judges to visit local high schools throughout Arizona to educate students about the role of the courts in our system of government. Working with DVDs produced by the Annenberg Foundation and written materials produced by the Center, the volunteers will teach a three hour course on the Judicial Branch. The Rehnquist Center Board initiated the program to serve as a nationwide model for secondary education about the judiciary.

There is ample evidence of the need for education on the Judicial Branch. In launching the program, the Center's Board noted a study showing an alarming lack of knowledge about the courts. According to a 2007 study, "Public Understanding of and Support for the Courts" by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, less than half of Americans believe that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision carries the same weight as a 9-0 decision. Almost a third of Americans believe that U.S. Supreme Court rulings can be appealed, and 38% are not sure whether its rulings are final. Only 15% can name the Chief Justice of the United States; 40% think the President may ignore a Supreme Court ruling if "doing so will protect the country from harm." A disturbing 17% of respondents favor doing away with the Supreme Court if the Court "started making a lot of rulings that most Americans disagreed with."

Justices Scalia and Breyer to Visit the Rehnquist Center

On October 26, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Stephen Breyer will visit the Center to discuss constitutional and statutory interpretation.

Justice Scalia
Justice Breyer

Details about the program will be available on the Center's website.

Center Hosts Judicial Independence Seminar for Southern Arizona Business Leaders

Justice O'ConnorIn collaboration with the Committee for Economic Development and Justice for All, the Rehnquist Center hosted a forum on judicial independence and accountability for Southern Arizona business leaders on February 19, 2009. The event featured Justice (retired) Sandra Day O'Connor, who cautioned the audience to be wary of efforts to change Arizona's long-established merit selection system. Justice O'Connor noted that the U.S. is the only nation to elect judges, and pointed out that many of the states using partisan elections to select or retain judges now face judicial campaigns that are as expensive as U.S. Senate campaigns.

Panelists at the forum included Pete Dunn, Director of Justice for All; The Honorable Ruth McGregor, then-Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court; Michael Petro, Vice President of the Committee for Economic Development; and Sally Rider, Director of the Rehnquist Center.

The forum was particularly timely for Arizona business leaders because several bills have been introduced in the Arizona legislature to abolish or amend the existing merit selection system. Panelists expressed concern about the cost of partisan elections and the danger that excessive campaign contributions pose to an independent judiciary.

The panel discussion may be viewed through the Committee for Economic Development Web site at

Michael Chertoff Lecture: "The Rule of Law Not the Rule of Lawyers"

Michael ChertoffIn delivering the Second Rehnquist Center Lecture on November 14, 2008, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff outlined his thoughts on judicial modesty and the proper role of the judge and lawyer.

Secretary Chertoff expressed concern about how the courts will address the changing national and international climate, and warned of extraterritorial jurisdiction asserted by some foreign courts. Citing the "uncharted ground" of changes in the financial sector, Secretary Chertoff said, "I continue to believe that for reasons of transparency in lawmaking, separation of powers, legitimacy and competency, judges will have to continue to anchor themselves in principles of modesty."

To view Secretary Chertoff's remarks, click here.

Construction Completed on the Rehnquist Center

The renovations were completed in time for the visit by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. in February 2009 and for the Center's annual Board meeting.

Completed Exterior of Center Center Conference Room
The University of Arizona completed the renovation of the Rehnquist Center's historic residence, designed by noted Tucson architect Josias Joesler. The space includes two offices for visiting scholars and jurists.
Globe The Center houses photos and memorabilia from Chief Justice Rehnquist's chambers, which were donated by the Rehnquist family. Ship steering wheel

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